Classic rock band Foreigner is performing at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Oct. 21. Photo courtesy Bill Bernstein

Foreigner set to rock Penticton

Classic rock band bringing their 40 tour to the South Okanagan

Thom Gimbel says ever since he was a kid, he’s always wanted to perform in a rock band, so being a part of Aerosmith and now Foreigner is an indescribable thrill.

“To be able to play with these groups has just been the ultimate high point,” said Gimbel.

Foreigner, with guests Honeymoon Suite, will be onstage at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Oct. 21, as part of their Foreigner 40 tour, marking four decades since Mick Jones put the band’s original lineup together.

Thom Gimbel rocking out on sax with Foreigner. (Submitted photo)

Along with Gimbel (rhythm guitar, sax, vocals), the current lineup features Mick Jones (lead guitar), Kelly Hansen (lead vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass, vocals), Michael Bluestein (keyboards), Bruce Watson (guitar) and Chris Frazier (drums).

“This band is rocking. We really love the stuff we are doing and working together. It’s like a supergroup,” said Gimbel, adding that though the lineup has changed over the years, the music is still there.

“The Foreigner sound is definitely intact,” said Gimbel, talking about the new lineup Jones put together in 2004. “It’s been a really fantastic situation ever since. It has really melded.”

The Penticton performance also features some special guest performers. The Penticton Secondary school choir will be performing with the band on I Want To Know What Love Is. Pen High music director Justin Glibbery said the band’s request came out of the blue, but it’s a great opportunity for the students.

“I couldn’t be happier for the kids. It is going to be a memory for their entire lives,” said Glibbery. “They’ll be able to tell their kids, when they are parents, I got to sing on the stage with Foreigner.”

This tour features a companion album, a career-spanning compilation titled 40, featuring 40 hits from 40 years, released this spring, along with a double-vinyl version featuring 23 songs.

Gimbel said while the tour features a lot of the great hits from the band’s catalogue, like Feels Like The First Time, Urgent, Waiting For A Girl Like You, there is new work as well.

“There are a couple of new songs on that compilation. That just shows you that Mick — Mick Jones, our leader and founder, ace guitarist — is always writing songs,” said Gimbel. “He’s always continuing to write new stuff and there has been talk about getting Lou Gramm (the band’s original lead singer) doing some stuff in the studio with some old tapes that they rediscovered, they might consider finishing them.”

And, Gimbel continued, no two live shows are the same.

“There is always room for creativity and even if we are playing the live show, we are going to stretch out a little bit and throw in some interesting moments,” he said. “These live versions have a life of their own, and we like to encourage that flourish.”

Gimbel said they are looking forward to bringing the tour to Canada.

“So vast and open and clean air and trees, we really are looking forward coming up there,” he said, adding they’re looking forward to connecting with the audience in Penticton.

“It will be a lot of fun to get that many people rocking out together, that will be our goal. We love any kind of scenario that involves an audience and us,” said Gimbel. “We are just happy to be there and get a chance to connect. It is fun to rock out as a band, but it is ten times more fun when the audience becomes part of it.”

Foreigner isn’t just looking to the past, Gimbel said, and there are a bunch of new projects on the go.

“There is a DVD we did with a symphony, that should be coming out by the end of this year. Fantastic project,” said Gimbel, adding that there is also a reunion with the band’s original 1970s lineup being planned.

“2018 is booking up pretty quick,” he said.

Tickets for Foreigner with Honeymoon Suite at the SOEC can be purchased in-person at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC, via phone 1-877-763-2849 or online at ValleyFirstTIX.com.

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